Craft and Engineering
With a few exceptions, Faerûn is a land without heavy industry, steam power, or firearms. For millennia magic, not technology, has been the path to understanding and true power. Hundreds of wizards develop new spells, create new magic items, or uncover new fields of magical lore with each passing year, but the number of savants who advance the boundaries of mundane knowledge is much smaller. Just as wizards are inclined to closely guard their magical secrets, many great architects, engineers, and inventors hoard their learning and rarely pass it on to the world at large.
While technology is sometimes viewed as a somewhat inelegant and weak compared to true magical power, most folk of the Heartlands have a passing familiarity with simple machines such as waterwheels and building principles such as the arch. Magic often serves as an adjunct to any large construction process, not a replacement for good engineering and months or years of heavy labor. The design of a city's new bridge is likely to come from an expert architect, who consults with various wizards regarding the use of magic to strengthen, reinforce, and preserve the work after it is complete. The strongest and most enduring structures make use of both sound construction and potent magic without relying entirely on either.
Keeps, castles, watchtowers, and walls are the best way to fortify a town or stronghold, despite the prevalence of magic and powerful monsters. It takes an adult dragon at the height of its vigor and determination to contemplate a single-handed attack on a well-built and well-defended castle. No wizard of less than 15th level or so commands enough magical power to raze a keep. Hundreds of tons of stone and iron doors with double locks prove surprisingly resistant to any destructive spell short of disintegrate or earthquake, and even then numerous castings may be required to achieve the out-right destruction of a stronghold.
That said, surface fortifications work best against human-sized attackers who possess limited access to magic. Attackers who can tunnel or fly are best fought off by magic-capable defenders, earth elementals, or mounted aerial troops. Savvy defenders who prefer not to rely on magic for defense employ crenellated walls, nets, and aerial ballistae against fliers, and use preset deadfalls, gas traps, or other buried mechanical devices against tunnelers.
Since the most dangerous threats to fortifications come from powerful spells and monsters with potent magical abilities, the largest and most impressive fortifications also tend to have built-in magical wards and protections. Lead sheeting incorporated into the walls and doors blocks many divination spells. A forbiddance spell, or a hallow spell coupled with a dimensional anchor effect, can stop hostile creatures from teleporting into a stronghold or passing its walls ethereally.
The main gate of a fortress is most likely toughened with resist elements and extra hardness and hit points, making it nearly impenetrable. Some wizards assume that static fortifications are merely noble vanity and pay little attention to them, but more than one overconfident mage has met his end in an attempt to assault a castle.
Vessels of all different types and technology levels coexist on Faerûn's seas and rivers. Most seagoing vessels no the western seas - the Trackless Sea and the Sea of Swords - are sailing ships such as cogs and caravels. The Northmen of Ruathym and the Moonshaes build longships with both oars and sails. The great trading powers of Waterdeep and Ann are famed for their greatships, or carracks, towering vessels that seem more like floating castles than seagoing craft. The lightly built galleys favored in more sheltered waters do not fare well in the winds and storms of the Sword Coast.
In the Sea of Fallen Stars, oared galleys and dromonds are as common as sailing ships. Most warships of the Inner Sea are galleys capable of ramming and boarding enemy ships with overwhelming manpower. Sailed ships fleet enough to escape such galleys exist, and can survive rough weather better than the galleys, but the deadly ram of a galley puts a sailing ship at a distinct disadvantage in most fights.
The elven fleets of Evermeet are made up of swift frigates and slops that represent the pinnacle of the shipwright's craft on Toril. No human warship can overhaul an elven vessel under sail - or escape it if the elves are inclined to seek battle.
Starting cash and Bonus Equipment: Characters who chose a home region in which their character class in encouraged gain a special benefit at 1st level. The character receives the bonus equipment specified for her region plus her normal allocation of starting cash. If the character chooses to take the extra cash instead of her bonus equipment, she may sell the equipment for half its normal value and add that amount to her starting cash.